Q: What is a private school?
A: Private (or non-public) schools fall into two categories in Ohio: chartered and non-chartered. The majority of private schools are chartered.
To be considered a “chartered” private school, the school must apply for and receive a charter from the State Board of Education. To receive a charter, the school must meet certain requirements adopted by the State Board of Education, including a requirement that the school comply with the Operating Standards for Ohio Schools. Chartered private schools consist of schools that are both sectarian and non-sectarian. A “sectarian” school is one that is affiliated with a “sect,” which is most commonly a religious organization. (Note: A “chartered private school” should not be confused with a “community school,” which is sometimes referred to a “charter school” in Ohio.) A community school is publicly funded, but is granted some flexibility with regard to public school rules and regulations.
Q: How are private schools funded?
A: Chartered private schools do not receive per-pupil foundation payments from the Ohio Department of Education or real estate tax revenues. For this reason, private schools are largely funded privately and students usually pay tuition. Chartered private schools may, however, receive reimbursement from the Ohio Department of Education for mandated services and certain administrative costs. Private schools may receive federal funding for providing special education services and other education-related services.
Q: Must private school teachers be licensed?
A: Yes. Chartered private school teachers are required to comply with all of the Ohio Department of Education’s certification and licensing requirements.
Q: What are the testing requirements for private school students?
A: Chartered private school students must take annual standardized tests and the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT). Other state tests are optional. Note, however, that the OGT will soon be replaced and new graduation requirements will take effect for the class of 2018, or for those students who entered ninth grade for the first time in 2014-2015 school year.
Q: Is transportation provided to private schools?
A: The public school that serves as a student’s home district must provide transportation to the chartered private school as long as the student lives more than two miles from the private school and the private school is less than 30 minutes away from the public school that the student would have attended.
Public schools may provide payments in lieu of transportation if it deems the transportation to be impractical. Public schools are only required to provide transportation for chartered private school students in grades K-8, unless the public school already provides transportation for its own high school students. If that is the case, the public school must provide such transportation to high school students in its district who attend private schools.
Q: What is a non-chartered private school?
A: A non-chartered private school is one that has not sought a charter from the State Board of Education, usually because of truly held religious beliefs. Because such schools are not chartered by the State Board of Education, no assistance is provided by the state or by public school districts. Also, colleges, universities and employers have discretion in deciding whether to accept credits, graduation credentials or a diploma issued by a non-chartered school.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by attorney Mark A. Weiker, a member of the Columbus firm, Albeit Weiker, LLP, and the OSBA Education Law Committee.